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Should I make a pre-auction offer on a property?

We examine how and when jumping the auction queue can work in your favour.

Updated

Fact checked

icon of a hammer When you’ve found the perfect property, the prospect of competing against other buyers at auction can be pretty intimidating. It can be tempting to try to avoid auction altogether with a pre-auction offer. This isn’t always a bad idea, but it’s imperative to first learn when, why and how you should make an offer prior to auction.

Know why they might say yes

Auctions are an incredibly popular way to sell homes in Australia. According to realestate.com.au, 20% of homes from September 2014 to September 2015 sold via auction. In capital cities this number was even higher, with around 30% of Sydney and Melbourne homes selling at auction.

It’s easy to see why vendors might want to take their chances at auction. After all, there’s no upper limit to what one could receive at auction, and the competitive bidding environment can serve to push prices skyward.

Likewise, there are plenty of reasons why a vendor might want to avoid auction. Recent auction results could make vendors a bit more wary about trying their chances. Auction clearance rates have been trending lower over recent weeks. According to CoreLogic, the combined capital city auction clearance rate for the week ending 24 September 2017 was 70.7%, down from 75.4% for the same week in 2016.

Auctions can be expensive endeavours. When taking into account marketing and the services of an auctioneer, Openagent.com.au estimates the expense of auctioning a $700,000 home could be up to $7,000. That’s a big gamble in a market where clearance rates are falling.

Time can be another factor that makes vendors rethink going to auction. Some vendors may have already found another property, and may be keen to sell their old property as quickly as possible. In a situation like this, a four-week marketing campaign for an auction can seem like an eternity.

If you understand some of the factors that could motivate vendors to sell prior to auction, you can make an informed assessment of the market and determine whether it’s likely vendors are looking to avoid auction.

Do the research

Before you make an offer on a property, make sure you know enough about its value to put yourself in serious contention.

Any property going to auction will have a rough idea, even before the campaign begins, of a price guide. While some vendors and agents can be a bit cagey on the question, you can usually get an idea of the suggested price if you ask directly.

But this is far from the only factor determining the price a property is likely to attract. Put in the time to research what price the property is likely to fetch at auction.

Where (and how) to find accurate property prices)

You can usually get a rough idea of the median price for similar properties by searching the property’s address on Domain or realestate.com.au. To get an even better idea, look at recent sales of similar properties. You’ll need to put some time in doing research to find truly comparable properties. Remember, not all two-bedroom houses are created equal, so pay attention to the condition, floor space, land space and amenities of the other sales in the area.

Show genuine interest

Demonstrate to the vendor and their agent that you’re interested in the property. You might want to attend several of the open inspections to begin to build a rapport with the agent and show you’re serious about the property.

When you do attend inspections, ask questions. Get as many specifics as you can about the house itself, and about the vendor, their goals and their expectations. Remember, the agent works for the vendor so they’re not likely to give away any sensitive information. However, you do want to demonstrate a genuine interest in understanding what the vendor is looking for and what offers they might be likely to consider.

You can also show you’re serious by taking some additional steps to research the property. Ask the agent for the contract of sale, and ask if there’s a building and pest inspection report you can purchase. Taking steps like this can set you apart from the rest of the crowd.

Make an offer they can’t refuse

It may seem counterintuitive, but when you make a pre-auction offer you need to go in bold and aggressive. In most business negotiations, you might want to hold your cards close and hesitate to give too much away. This strategy is unlikely to work when you’re trying to convince a vendor to sell before auction.

Make the vendor an offer near the upper limit of what you’re willing to pay. Remember, you’re trying to convince them that it’s worth avoiding auction to take your offer. You’re not going to accomplish that with a lowball price.

In addition to offering an enticing price, try to offer enticing terms as well. You can offer a short settlement time, a bigger deposit or even waive the cooling-off period. You want to offer the vendor better terms than they can expect at auction.

Be prepared

If your offer is accepted, you need to be organised and ready to make good on it.

This means you’ll need to have your deposit cheque ready to deliver to the vendor as soon as your offer is accepted. It also means you’ll want to have finance in order for you to move to settlement in a reasonable timeframe. It’s worth getting home loan pre-approval before you make an offer. This means you'll need to compare your options to find the right home loan for your situation.

You also need to be ready to exchange contracts quickly. It could be worth having a solicitor look over the contract of sale before you put in your offer. Remember that until contracts are exchanged, there’s nothing stopping the vendor from entertaining other offers.

Be sure it’s the best strategy

The major caveat to all of the above is to be certain that making an offer prior to auction is a strategy you’re comfortable with. There’s every possibility that a pre-auction offer will see you paying more for a property than if you had gone to auction.

If your offer is rejected, you run the risk of merely adjusting the vendor’s price expectations upwards. This means the vendor and their agent can now tell any other potential buyers that they’ve had interest above the original price guide. Your offer now becomes the floor for everyone else.

If you do choose to make an offer prior to auction, you should do so because market conditions seem to favour buyers, and you think you can secure the property at a reasonable price without competing with others at auction. A pre-auction offer might not always be the right strategy, but if you know what you’re willing to pay and you want to take other buyers out of the running, it could be worth the risk.

If you a pre-auction offer doesn't work, here are some expert tips to give you the upper hand in the auction.

Compare some of the market's best home loans below

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Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comp Rate^ (p.a.) Application Fee Ongoing Fees Max LVR Monthly Payment Short Description
St.George Basic Home Loan - LVR 60% to 80% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.64%
2.66%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Up to $4,000 refinance cashback.
A competitive variable rate loan from St.George. Refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more can get up $4,000 cashback for their first application (Other terms, conditions and exclusions apply).
UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate - Discount Offer for Owner Occupiers, Variable P&I Rate
2.49%
2.49%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Enjoy flexible repayments, a redraw facility and the ability to split your loan. Plus, pay no application or ongoing fees.
Athena Celebrate Home Loan - 60% LVR  Owner Occupier, P&I
2.39%
2.39%
$0
$0 p.a.
60%
A very low variable rate for home buyers with 40% deposits or equity. This rate takes effect from 30 September for new and existing customers. You can get this rate if you apply today.
Suncorp Back to Basics Home Loan - Better Together Special Offer $150k+ LVR ≤ 80% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.68%
2.69%
$600
$0 p.a.
80%
$2,000 to $3,000 refinance cashback
Get a competitive variable interest rate with no application fee or ongoing fees. Refinance to an eligible Suncorp loan and get a cashback of $2,000 or $3,000, depending on your loan amount. Other conditions apply.
ME Flexible Home Loan Fixed with Members Package - 2 Year Fixed Rate LVR ≤ 80% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.19%
3.36%
$0
$395 p.a.
80%
Lock in a competitive rate for owner occupiers for two years. Comes with a 100% offset account.
homeloans.com.au Low Rate Home Loan with Offset - LVR Under 60% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.44%
2.46%
$0
$0 p.a.
60%
A competitive rate with no application or ongoing fee. This loan is not available for construction.
HSBC Home Value Loan - Promotional Offer (Owner Occupier P&I)
2.59%
2.60%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Get a low interest rate loan with no ongoing fees. Plus you can make extra repayments and free redraw online.
Virgin Money Reward Me Variable Home Loan - LVR ≤ 60% ($750k+ Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.60%
2.77%
$300
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
60%
$2,500 refinance cashback
Buy your home and lock in a low rate for the first two years. Get a $2,500 cashback when you switch to Virgin Money with a loan amount of $300,000 or more with an LVR up to 80%. You must apply by 28 August and settle by 30 October 2020.
Tic:Toc Live in 10% deposit Variable Rate - Principal & Interest
2.39%
2.40%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Get a very low interest rate and pay no application, settlement or valuation fees. Apply online for full approval in real time and add a 100% offset account for $10 a month.
Well Home Loans Balanced Variable - LVR 80% Special Offer (Owner occupier, P&I)
2.17%
2.20%
$250
$0 p.a.
80%
A very low interest rate for home buyers with 20% deposits saved. Add an offset account for a small fee. This special discount rate is available for new borrowers who apply and get approved by 30 November 2020. Not available for construction purposes.
Athena Liberate Home Loan - 70% to 80% LVR Owner Occupier, P&I (*now 2.59%, drops to 2.54% on 30 Sep)
2.54%
2.46%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A competitive variable rate mortgage for owner occupiers $0 application and $0 ongoing fees. This interest rate falls over time as you pay off the loan. This rate will drop to 2.54% p.a on 30 September 2020 for new and existing customers. You can get this rate if you apply today.
IMB Budget Home Loan - Special LVR  ≤90% (Owner Occupier, P&I, NSW and ACT borrowers only)
2.78%
2.84%
$449
$0 p.a.
90%
NSW and ACT customers only. You can get an interest rate discount for a limited time with this competitive variable mortgage.
Virgin Money Reward Me Fixed Rate Home Loan - 2 Year $300k+ Special offer (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.29%
2.91%
$300
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
80%
$2,500 refinance cashback
Buy your home and lock in a low rate for the first two years. Get a $2,500 cashback when you switch to Virgin Money with a loan amount of $300,000 or more with an LVR up to 80%. You must apply by 28 August and settle by 30 October 2020.
IMB Budget Home Loan - LVR ≤80% (Owner Occupier, P&I, NSW and ACT borrowers only)
2.61%
2.67%
$449
$0 p.a.
80%
A competitive variable rate for borrowers with 20% deposits saved. Available for NSW and ACT borrowers only.
Athena Evaporate Home Loan - 60% to 70% LVR  Owner Occupier, P&I
2.49%
2.43%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
A low variable rate for owner occupiers with 30% deposits. This rate takes effect from 30 September for new and existing customers. You can get this rate if you apply today.
AMP Bank Professional Package Variable Rate Home Loan - $100,000 and above, LVR ≤ 80% incl. LMI (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.59%
3.00%
$0
$349 p.a.
80%
Get a sharp rate with no application or settlement fee, a redraw facility and 100% offset account. Other fees and charges apply.
ME Flexible Home Loan Fixed with Members Package - 3 Year Fixed Rate LVR ≤ 80% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.19%
3.30%
$0
$395 p.a.
80%
Get a low 3 year fixed rate with a 100% offset account and package discounts.
homeloans.com.au Low Rate Home Loan with Offset - LVR 60% to 80% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.54%
2.56%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
This loan offers a competitive variable rate and a 100% offset account to help save you on interest repayments. This loan is not available for construction.
ME Flexible Home Loan Fixed - 2 Year Fixed Rate LVR ≤ 80% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.34%
3.98%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Get a low fixed rate and pay no application or ongoing fees.
Bankwest Complete Home Loan Package Variable - $200k to <$750k LVR ≤80% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.73%
3.18%
$0
$395 p.a.
80%
A low variable rate loan with a 100% offset account and package discounts.
Yard Variable Home Loan - LVR 80% Special (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.39%
2.42%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A very low variable rate loan for home buyers with an optional offset account ($10 monthly fee). 20% deposit required.
Heritage Bank Discount Variable Home Loan - LVR ≤ 80% (Owner Occupier, P&I) New Customers Only
2.78%
2.80%
$600
$0 p.a.
80%
Family guarantee option available. Enjoy flexible repayments and a low minimum loan amount.
HSBC Home Value Loan - Promotional Offer LVR 90% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.69%
2.70%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
A competitive value home loan with no ongoing fee.
Community First Accelerator Home Loan Package - 2 Year Intro Rate Variable New Loan Offer (Owner Occupier, P&I)
1.99%
3.25%
$0
$395 p.a.
80%
A package loan that offers discounts and a 100% offset account. Available on new loans or external refinances of $750,000 or more.
Heritage Bank Fixed Rate Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed Rate (Owner Occupier, P&I) New Customers Only
2.59%
4.26%
$600
$8 monthly ($96 p.a.)
95%
Get a partial offset account and the option to make interest-only repayments.
Bank of Melbourne Basic Home Loan - Special Offer (Owner Occupiers, P&I) LVR above 60% up to 80%
2.64%
2.66%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Up to $4,000 refinance cashback
A competitive variable rate loan from Bank of Melbourne. Refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more can get up $4,000 cashback for their first application (Other terms, conditions and exclusions apply).
Bluestone Prime Direct (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.49%
2.51%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
Bluestone's Prime Direct is a competitive variable rate home loan for borrowers with 30% deposits.
Newcastle Permanent Building Society  Premium Plus Package Fixed Rate - 2 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.44%
3.76%
$0
$395 p.a.
95%
Enjoy a discounted fixed rate and the ability to package the loan with other financial products. $2,000 cashback for eligible refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more.
UBank UHomeLoan - 3 Year Fixed Rate (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.14%
2.41%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
A competitive fixed interest rate loan with no ongoing fees. Requires a 20% deposit.
BankSA Basic Home Loan - Owner Occupier, P&I
2.64%
2.66%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Up to $4,000 refinance cashback
A competitive variable rate loan from BankSA. Refinancers borrowing $200,000 or more can get up $4,000 cashback for their first application (Other terms, conditions and exclusions apply).
G&C Mutual Bank Momentum Home Loan - LVR <50% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.55%
2.57%
$0
$0 p.a.
A variable rate loan for owner-occupiers looking to refinance. This loan has low fees and a 100% offset account.
UBank UHomeLoan - 1 Year Fixed Rate (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.14%
2.46%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
Fix your mortgage for 1 year with a very competitive rate and no ongoing fees.
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Fixed Rate Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.54%
3.98%
$595
$0 p.a.
95%
Borrow up to 95% LVR of the value of the property you're buying and pay no ongoing fees. $2,000 cashback for eligible refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more.
Suncorp Home Package Plus Fixed - 2 Year Fixed Rate Special Offer $150k+ LVR ≤90% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.29%
3.28%
$0
$375 p.a.
90%
A low fixed rate loan available for borrowers with 10% deposits. Refinance to an eligible Suncorp loan and get a cashback of $2,000 or $3,000, depending on your loan amount. Other conditions apply.
UBank UHomeLoan - 1 Year Fixed Rate (Investor, P&I)
2.29%
2.84%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
Investors can enjoy flexible repayments and an easy application process with this pioneering online lender.
IMB Fixed Rate Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed (LVR 90% Owner Occupier, P&I, NSW and ACT borrowers only)
2.39%
3.14%
$449
$6 monthly ($72 p.a.)
90%
NSW and ACT customers only. 2 years fixed interest terms and free access to redraw facility online. Available with a 5% deposit.
Athena Variable Home Loan - Owner Occupier, IO (*now 3.09%, drops to 3.04% on 30 Sep)
3.04%
2.68%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Owner occupiers can refinance to one of the most competitive interest-only rates in the market. No application fee and no ongoing fees. This rate will drop to 3.04% p.a on 30 September 2020 for new and existing customers. You can get this rate if you apply today.
ME Flexible Home Loan With Member Package - LVR ≤80% $400k up to $699,999 (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.84%
3.29%
$0
$395 p.a.
80%
Unlock a range of savings with this competitive package home loan offer. Offset account and redraw facility included.
UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate - Discount Offer for Investor Variable P&I Rate
2.89%
2.89%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Get a discounted, low-fee investor loan from a convenient online lender. 20% deposit required.
ME Basic Home Loan - LVR ≤80% $150,000 or more (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.58%
2.60%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
This variable rate loan keeps the features simple and fees low. This loan is offered by a 100% online lender.
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Real Deal Home Loan - Special Offer 1 (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.59%
2.63%
$595
$0 p.a.
80%
$2,000 cashback for eligible refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more.
Heritage Bank Advantage Package - 1 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier, P&I) New Customers Only
2.59%
3.32%
$0
$350 p.a.
95%
Get a partial offset account and flexible repayments with this package loan.
UBank UHomeLoan - 1 Year Fixed Rate (Owner Occupier, IO)
2.29%
2.47%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
A one year fixed rate offer with no ongoing bank fees.
IMB Fixed Rate Home Loan - 3 Year Fixed (LVR 90% Owner Occupier, P&I, NSW and ACT borrowers only)
2.39%
3.08%
$449
$6 monthly ($72 p.a.)
90%
NSW and ACT customers only. 3 years fixed interest terms and free access to redraw facility online. Available with a 10% deposit.
Greater Bank Great Rate Home Loan - Discounted 1 Year Fixed LVR ≤80% ($150K+ Owner Occupier)
1.99%
3.52%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Get one of the lowest rates on the market with this fixed rate mortgage. Guarantor option available. NSW, QLD and ACT residents only.
UBank UHomeLoan - 3 Year Fixed Rate (Owner Occupier, IO)
2.29%
2.44%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
A competitive 3 year fixed rate with no ongoing bank fees.
UBank UHomeLoan - 1 Year Fixed Rate (Investor, IO)
2.44%
2.85%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
Investors can enjoy flexible repayments and an easy application process with this pioneering online lender.
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Premium Plus Package Home Loan - New Customer Offer Discount 1 ($150k+ Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.94%
3.34%
$0
$395 p.a.
95%
New borrowers or refinancers can get a discounted rate with this package loan. $2,000 cashback for eligible refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more.
IMB Fixed Rate Home Loan - 3 Years Fixed (LVR ≤90% Investor, P&I, NSW and ACT borrowers only)
2.64%
3.56%
$449
$6 monthly ($72 p.a.)
90%
NSW and ACT customers only. A 3 years fixed rate investor which allows extra repayments to be made.
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Logo for Athena Liberate Home Loan - 70% to 80% LVR Owner Occupier, P&I (*now 2.59%, drops to 2.54% on 30 Sep)
Athena Liberate Home Loan - 70% to 80% LVR Owner Occupier, P&I (*now 2.59%, drops to 2.54% on 30 Sep)

A competitive variable rate mortgage for owner occupiers $0 application and $0 ongoing fees. This interest rate falls over time as you pay off the loan. This rate will drop to 2.54% p.a on 30 September 2020 for new and existing customers. You can get this rate if you apply today.

Logo for UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate - Discount Offer for Owner Occupiers, Variable P&I Rate
UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate - Discount Offer for Owner Occupiers, Variable P&I Rate

Take advantage of a low-fee mortgage with a special interest rate of just 2.49% p.a. and a 2.49% p.a. comparison rate.

Logo for HSBC Home Value Loan - Promotional Offer (Owner Occupier P&I)
HSBC Home Value Loan - Promotional Offer (Owner Occupier P&I)

Get a low interest rate loan with no ongoing fees. Plus you can make extra repayments and free redraw online.

Logo for ME Flexible Home Loan Fixed with Members Package - 2 Year Fixed Rate LVR ≤ 80% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
ME Flexible Home Loan Fixed with Members Package - 2 Year Fixed Rate LVR ≤ 80% (Owner Occupier, P&I)

Lock in a competitive rate for owner occupiers for two years. Comes with a 100% offset account.

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